26,000 Acres Added To Petrified Forest National Park
The U.S. government announced on Thursday it has decided to add 26,000 acres to the National Park Service’s Petrified Forest National Park.
Congress expanded the boundaries of the park in 2004 from 93,500 acres to about 218,500 acres but did not immediately appropriate any money to buy the private inholdings.
“The National Park Service and The Conservation Fund announced today the conservation of approximately 26,000 acres in northeast Arizona full of significant paleontological and archeological resources within the Petrified Forest National Park acquisition boundary,” the two entities said in a news release today.
“While most noted for its petrified trees that have turned completely into stone over the last 225 million years, the Park also features plant and animal fossils from the Late Triassic period. Researchers anticipate that this acquisition will provide new opportunities for scientific discovery,” the statement added.
The funding for land purchases came through a federal land protection program. The National Park Service has acquired about a third of the 120,000 acres it wants, with the most significant acreage coming from a transfer of U.S. Bureau of Land Management land and Thursday’s $8 million purchase of the Paulsell Ranch within the park boundaries.
“Over the last several years, Congress approved the funds needed for this significant acquisition through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal land protection program that receives significant revenue from the development of federally-owned offshore oil and gas rights,” the joint statement said.
The Park Service said it expects to spend a few years doing inventory on the land before it decides on how the public can best enjoy it. About 630,000 people visit the park every year.
The federal government has helped lead the way in conserving the Petrified Forest for over 100 years.
“The Petrified Forest National Park is an irreplaceable archeological and historical site that serves as an economic engine for Northeastern Arizona. In 2009, visitors to the Petrified Forest spent over $80 million in the area, sustaining hundreds of jobs in the surrounding communities,” Congressman Paul Gosar said in a statement.
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